From smaller orders to shortened delivery timelines, the e-commerce economy calls for WMS solutions that can help businesses stay competitive in a crowded market.

For industry veterans in the shipping and logistics space, it’s been clear for years that the e-commerce economy is having wide-ranging and long-term effects on the way businesses operate. As more and more consumers turn to online marketplaces such as Amazon to make purchases, their spending habits and expectations are changing. In fact, research shows that 43% of consumers now expect companies to have “much faster” delivery times.

These shifts represent growing challenges for shippers and retailers alike. However, they can be turned into an advantage for industry professionals and businesses that are willing to invest in the tools that can make the demands of modern e-commerce fulfillment achievable. While a wide range of capabilities from artificial intelligence and robotics to IoT technology and predictive analytics are needed to fully leverage industry trends, one component that often gets overlooked — and shouldn’t — is warehouse management software (WMS).

Understanding WMS

WMS is something of a jack-of-all-trades for warehouse managers, shipping and logistics staff, and retailers monitoring their supply chain. These systems leverage sensors, check-in on inventory levels, and track employee progress during the picking, packing, and shipping process in order to provide key decision-makers with a clear picture of their operation. WMS platforms can even integrate with transportation and order management systems (TMS and OMS, respectively) so that stakeholders can ensure the fulfillment process is proceeding as intended from start to finish.

While the everyday support that WMS platforms provide warehouses merits the investment on its own, these systems can transform the way logistics facilities operate in the long run as well. For example, a WMS collects data on employee progress, inventory levels, incoming orders, and more. Over time, a WMS platform can analyze that data and identify trends that can inform core business functions. If a particular juncture of the picking, packing, and shipping process is causing a disruptive bottleneck, for instance, a WMS can help supply chain managers how to make warehouse operations more efficient.

Despite the benefits that WMS offers modern supply chains — end-to-end visibility, clear communication, inventory alerts — a WERC survey found that the adoption rate for these systems has leveled out at about 70%. This means that approximately 30% of warehouses aren’t reaping the benefits of technology that can collect valuable data and turn it into actionable, profit-maximizing insights.

What the Future of WMS Looks Like

While it’s not immediately apparent why so many logistics facilities haven’t yet adopted WMS platforms of their own, what is clear is that operations that do so stand to gain from these systems. Indeed, in the short term, warehouses with a WMS in place will be better equipped to handle smaller orders, shorter delivery timelines, and surges in demand that are becoming part and parcel of the e-commerce economy.

In the long term, however, having a WMS platform in place will be a critical addition to any fulfillment operation. As robotics, automation, and IoT technology promise to transform the modern supply chain, WMS platforms will play an essential role in connecting these capabilities into existing warehouse infrastructure. For logistics facilities that have a WMS platform in place, investing in these technologies will be an opportunity for growth rather than a headache.

How Primary Logistics Can Support Warehouse Operations

For larger businesses that have the capacity, integrating a WMS platform across your supply chain is an effective way to prepare for the future of e-commerce fulfillment. However, purchasing and implementing such supply chain technology can be prohibitive for small and mid-sized operations without the bandwidth or the capital to do so. Instead, businesses that want to reap the benefits of WMS platforms should consider working with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner or an integrated logistics services provider (ISP) who can help.

With Primary Logistics, businesses looking to compete in the e-commerce economy can count on an experienced partner and state-of-the-art supply chain infrastructure to support their operation. Thanks to wide-ranging contacts across the industry and a track record of excellence, our award-winning team can help with whatever your logistics needs happen to be.

Are you looking to revamp your e-commerce game plan? Do you need help consolidating orders? Primary Logistics has the knowledge and the capacity to assist. Whether you need a targeted solution or a wholesale reevaluation for your business, reach out to us today.

If you’d like to learn more about how award-winning shipping and logistics services from Primary Logistics and Primary Freight, contact us today at (800)-635-0013.